Barkley scored his first NFL touchdown, a 68-yard rush, in the season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Overall in his first NFL game, he rushed for 106 yards and scored a touchdown in the Giants' 20–15 loss. The following week, in a 20–13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Barkley recorded 14 receptions, setting a Giants' all-time franchise record for most catches in a game. He also tied the NFL single game record for most catches in a game by an NFL rookie. In Week 3, in the Giants' 27–22 victory over the Houston Texans, Barkley recorded 82 rushing yards, rushed for a touchdown, and caught five passes for 35 receiving yards. The following week, in the Giants' loss to the New Orleans Saints, Barkley recorded 100 scrimmage yards with 44 rushing yards and 56 receiving yards and a rushing touchdown. In Week 5, against the Carolina Panthers, he recorded four receptions for 81 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns and rushed for 48 yards in the Giants' 33–31 loss. In the Giants' Week 6 Thursday Night Football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Barkley finished with 130 rushing yards, including a 50-yard touchdown and 99 receiving yards, totaling 229 all-purpose yards in the Giants 34–13 loss to Philadelphia. In Week 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Barkley rushed for his NFL career-high to date with 142 yards and three touchdowns as the Giants won 38–35. and for his efforts he was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week. In Week 12's 25–22 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Barkley rushed for 101 yards and scored a 51-yard touchdown, becoming the first player since John Fuqua in 1970 to rush for two 50-plus yard touchdowns against the Eagles in a single season. In Week 13 against the Chicago Bears, Barkley had 125 rushing yards and three receptions for 21 yards in the 30–27 overtime win.
At the combine, Barkley had a performance that was widely praised, running a 4.4 second 40-yard dash and doing 29 bench presses of 225 pound weight, tying for the most reps by any running back at the combine. According to NFL analyst Ian Rapoport, the Cleveland Browns were "strongly considering" drafting Barkley first overall, which would have made him the first running back since Ki-Jana Carter in 1995 to be selected first overall.
Saquon Rasul Quevis Barkley (/ˈseɪkwɒn/ SAY-kwon; born February 9, 1997) is an American football running back for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). Prior to entering the NFL in 2018, Barkley played college football at Penn State, where he set several all-time school records for his offensive production over three seasons before foregoing his senior year to enter the NFL.
In 2001, Barkley and his family moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in the Lehigh Valley region of eastern Pennsylvania in search of a safer and more suburban environment. The family later moved to neighboring Allentown and, in 2005, to Coplay, Pennsylvania.
Entering the 2018 NFL draft, Barkley was widely projected to be a top 10 NFL pick. In the weeks leading up to the NFL Combine, Barkley's stock rose even higher. By late February 2018, some mock drafts projected him as high as the second selection overall, the highest for a running back since Reggie Bush in 2006. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr., who has history of not supporting the selection of running backs in the NFL draft's first round, said "Barkley is a once in a lifetime talent; teams that pass on this young man will be sorry."
At Penn State, Barkley earned immediate playing time as a true freshman in 2015. After rushing for one yard on one carry during his first game, he rushed for 115 yards with a touchdown in his second game against Buffalo. He followed up that performance by rushing for 195 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries in his third game against Rutgers. In October, he missed two games due to injury.
In addition to football, Barkley also lettered in basketball and track and field at Whitehall. As a senior in 2015, he won Eastern Pennsylvania Conference gold medals in both the 100-meter dash (11.15 seconds) and in the long jump (22'2.5" or 6.77m) at the PIAA District 11 meet, where he also earned a second-place finish in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.90 seconds, which set a Whitehall High School record. Later in the track and field season, Barkley set personal best marks of 46'2.5" (14.08m) in the shot put and 6'0" (1.83m) in the high jump.
In his first game back against top-ranked Ohio State on October 17, 2015, he rushed for 194 yards on 26 carries. During his freshman year at Penn State in 2015, Barkley rushed for 1,076 yards on 182 carries.
In the first game of his sophomore year at Penn State in 2016, Barkley rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown in a 33–13 win over Kent State. In week two, in a renewed rivalry game against Pitt, Penn State trailed in the second quarter 28–7 before Barkley led Penn State back, scoring five touchdowns with his fifth coming with 5:00 left in the fourth quarter, to bring the Nittany Lions within three points. However, quarterback Trace McSorley threw an interception in the Pitt end zone with 1:41 left that denied the Nittany Lions' hopes of completing the comeback. In week five against Minnesota, in what would become a recurring theme for the 2016 Penn State football team, Penn State again was forced to come back from a halftime deficit. In overtime, after being held to only 38 yards on 19 carries during regular playing time, Barkley's first play in overtime, a 25-yard touchdown run, gave Penn State the victory.
On November 1, 2016, Barkley was named a semi-finalist for the Maxwell Award, granted to the all-around best collegiate football player of the year. On November 5, Barkley rushed for 167 yards and a touchdown against Iowa. He added 44 yards and another touchdown in receiving for a total of 211 all-purpose yards in Penn State's 41–14 victory.
On December 3, 2016, Barkley had 19 carries for 83 yards, rushed for a touchdown, and caught another touchdown on a wheel route. His efforts helped Penn State recover from a 28–7 deficit to stun Wisconsin, 38–31, in the 2016 Big Ten Championship Game.
In 2017, Barkley finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting with 304 total votes, third in Maxwell Award voting, and received multiple national and Big Ten Conference awards and recognition. During Barkley's three-year collegiate career, he set all-time Penn State records for most all-purpose career yards (5,538), most career rushing touchdowns (43), most career receiving yards by a running back (1,157), most rushing yards by a freshman and sophomore, and most total yards in a single game.
In the first Big Ten home game of his junior year against the Indiana, Barkley rushed 20 times for just 56 yards, an unusually underwhelming rushing day for him. Despite this, he still had a major impact on the game, returning the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, catching four passes for 52 yards, and throwing a 16-yard pass to receiver DaeSean Hamilton late in the fourth quarter to cap a 45–14 Penn State win. This made Barkley the first player in Big Ten history to record a return and passing touchdown in the same game. Barkley was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week. One month later against Ohio State, Barkley again returned the opening kickoff back 97 yards for a touchdown, but was limited for the rest of the game recording 44 rushing yards on 21 carries, 36 of which came on a touchdown run in the second quarter. In his final collegiate game at Penn State, Barkley rushed for 137 yards and scored two touchdowns, one of them a 92-yard effort to put Penn State up 28–7 over the Washington Huskies in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl, which Penn State went on to win 35–28. On December 31, 2017, following Penn State's Fiesta Bowl victory, Barkley declared his intention to forgo his senior year at Penn State and enter the 2018 NFL Draft.
In 2018, the Pennsylvania General Assembly voted to make March 14 a state holiday known as "Saquon Barkley Day". Barkley and his family participated in a parade through his hometown of Coplay, Pennsylvania that included the Whitehall High School marching band and kids from the league where Barkley played youth football.
Barkley is the son of Alibay Barkley and Tonya Johnson. He has three brothers and two sisters. His great uncle is former WBC middleweight champion Iran Barkley. Barkley has two children. His daughter, Jada Clare, was born April 24, 2018. Barkley’s son, Saquon Jr., was born in September 2022.
Barkley was selected by the New York Giants with the second overall selection in the 2018 draft. On July 22, 2018, Barkley signed a four-year rookie contract, worth $31.2 million fully guaranteed.
In Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football, Barkley rushed 15 times for six rushing yards and caught six passes for 60 receiving yards in the Giants' 26–16 loss to the Steelers. Barkley's 0.4 yards per attempt was a career low. During the following week's 17–13 loss to the Chicago Bears, Barkley was carted off the field after suffering a knee injury, which was later diagnosed as a torn anterior cruciate ligament, which ended his 2020 season. During the game, Barkley rushed to the right and engaged with Bears safety Eddie Jackson, who wrestled him down to the ground near the sideline at the end of a six-yard run. Barkley immediately grabbed the back of his right knee and removed his helmet. Jackson later voiced his concern on Twitter, sending prayers and support. Barkley was placed on injured reserve on September 22, 2020.
On April 28, 2021, the Giants picked up the fifth-year option on Barkley's contract, worth a guaranteed $7.217 million for the 2022 season. In Week 5 against the Dallas Cowboys, Barkley's foot landed on Jourdan Lewis and his ankle rolled. On November 3, 2021, the Giants announced that Barkley was being placed in the NFL's COVID-19 protocol. In the 2021 season, Barkley had 593 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns, 41 receptions, 263 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns in 13 games.
On September 10, 2021, Whitehall High School retired Barkley's jersey number (#21). Prior to retiring Barkley's Whitehall jersey number, the high school had retired the jersey numbers of two other Whitehall alumni who went on to have successful NFL careers: Matt Millen, who played from 1980 until 1991 with the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Washington Redskins; and Dan Koppen, who played from 2003 until 2013 with the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos.
Barkley was selected second overall by the Giants in the 2018 NFL Draft, setting several NFL and team records en route to making the 2018 Pro Bowl and being named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He confronted injuries in the 2020 season, but was again named to the Pro Bowl in 2022.
On March 7, 2023, the Giants placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Barkley. He signed the franchise tag after it was adjusted to add a $2 million signing bonus and incentives on July 26.